Pain and suffering can come about for several reasons. Many suffer physically and emotionally because of their own bad choices. Our first parents suffered because of a wrong decision. Similarly, those who have sexual encounters before they are married may contract sexual diseases, become pregnant or become emotional hurt from such encounters. Abel suffered innocently because of the frustrations of another – his brother. A child may lose his life because of a stray bullet or drunk driver. Job’s pain and suffering were designed to make him stronger – through testing. God still allows trials to come in our lives to build our character. (James 1:3; 5:10, 11)

Natural disasters which are the result of man’s sin and the catastrophic flood which changed the entire landscape of a once perfect earth also bring about pain/suffering. Earthquakes that topple and destroy entire cities; Tsunamis that wash away entire villages of people; tornados and hurricanes that leaves total destruction behind. All these are the ultimate result of man’s misuse of his free will.

The choices made by previous generations result in many suffering today. A child born with AIDS is only suffering because of the choices made by his parents. We today suffer in a general sense because of the choices that our first parents made at the beginning of time. Free will, though good, can bring about much pain when bad choices are made. Cars and airplanes are designed for good reasons, but they can be used as machines of destruction (e.g. 9/11). Fire can cook our food and keep us warm, but it can also destroy houses.

Pain/suffering can keep us humble. Paul had infirmities – a thorn in the flesh – which caused him to remain meek after the revelations which he had received. But, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you” (1 Cor. 12:9). The reason for our human existence is not to pursue happiness, but rather, the purpose of life is to gain knowledge of God which will lead us to ultimate fulfillment both now and eternally – part of God’s way of leading us and preparing us for eternity is through suffering.

Tavares D. Mathews